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Protesters march against the murder by Islamist terrorists of journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, January 2015. The bill has strong support from the French public opinion (© Bob Diderich)

Hollande withdraws bill to revoke French nationality of terrorists

The controversial bill passed by French parliament in February making it possible to revoke the citizenship of people convicted on terrorism charges has been withdrawn by President Francois Hollande. The action followed the rejection of the bill by the Senate on 30 March.

The bill, presented by Prime minister Manuel Valls in the wake of the Paris attacks of last November, passed by 317-199 in parliament’s lower house, the National Assembly, in February. For full implementation, the measure required the support of the upper house and the Senate.

Had the bill been passed into law, the decision to revoke a person’s French citizenship would have been made by a judge. Human rights groups had warned that the bill risked discriminating against minorities of immigrant background as the initial text targeted dual nationals only.

In response to the criticism, the government removed the mention of dual nationals and extended the measure to all French citizens, risking leaving a person stateless. This could be in conflict with France’s obligations under international law, critics said.

The Senate, voting against the bill, insisted on sticking to the initial text of the bill restricting its application to people with dual citizenship. Senate leaders said the creation of stateless individuals was a “red line” they would not cross.

Though the bill has strong support from the French public opinion, members of Francois Hollande’s governing Socialist Party remain divided on the issue. Late January, Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who was born in French Guiana, resigned in protest as the parliament began debating the bill.

Toro Abalu-Diehl

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